I am struck by the number of times a South China Morning Post blog has been curated concerning Hong Kong taxi drivers smashing up an Uber hire car.
It is not clear why the American-based network chose to call itself UberCab in the first place.
Uber means ‘above’ in German, although taxi drivers around the world do not believe it should mean above the law. Is this the way the future is moving? Is this right?
Fundamentals of the Uber Conflict
Economics is about the fight over scarce resources. The worldwide taxi industry has ploughed a furrow whereby it (mostly) coexists peacefully with train lines and bus companies. It is largely self-regulated and managed through conventions. However these are insufficient to counter the threat posed by ecommerce-based passengers.
Uber 101 for Newbies
The Uber model is simple. As aspiring passenger downloads an app and files a trip request. Uber forwards this to subscribing owners of private vehicles who are potentially available for hire. Uber manages pricing and takes its cut of successful transactions. Its model has been copied so many times that we have a new word in the English Dictionary, Uberification.
Is Conflict Inevitable Between Ecommerce & Iron and Steel?
Litigation between brick and mortar shops and virtual traders is legion, as China and the wider world buy everything from fashion to travel on the internet. The commercial ‘victims’ are conglomerates that gobbled up independents as the global economy surfaced after World War II. Spats and competition tribunals operated within the laws of affected countries then, and the participants seldom went out and smashed each other’s properties up (although this did happen).
Waning Clouds on the Horizon
Events in Hong Kong may be more worrisome than what they first seem. The Chinese government is trying to democratise shopping, and the only way to do so appears to be over the internet. The Uber principle probably works well in rural areas. However, when this enters a tense situation in Hong Kong where citizens are threatened, warning clouds appear on the horizon.
I doubt the Uber network will not do anything about it. It is ‘just a facilitator’ with a slogan where lifestyle meets logistics, and the money is rolling in.